The Great Ice Out

By now even those who loved it had started to hate it. The snowmobilers were over it, having long since fogged their engines and stowed away their sleds. The ice fishermen, once the biggest proponents of it had decided that they would no longer sharpen their augers. The guy who lives down the road some ways- the one who ice skated across the Bay as if he hadn’t a single land-based care in the world- he didn’t even feel like looking out his window anymore. This is why the town devised a plan.

It had been decided that enough was, by now, enough. The ice had grown thick and strong, and the townspeople had skated over it, drilled through it, sledded across it. They had loved it. But that was then and this was now, and now no one had any time for it. There was so much sunshine and some tepid warmth, so some thought the ice would simply go away on its own. One old man said he hadn’t a doubt in the world that the ice would be gone by the first day of spring. The week that the first day was to occur, it was obvious to all, except that old man, that the ice was not going to leave by then, and in fact, some wondered if it would leave at all. At the meetings that followed, the confident old man was no where to be found.

At first the plan wasn’t all that clear. The ice would need to be removed, everyone agreed upon that, but how? One veteran of some peace-ship told of how he and his crew would clean up oil spills by lighting the oil on fire and simply watching it burn. When some woman in the front row suggested that this couldn’t be true, and that she had seen commercials about how Dove soap is what they use to clean up oil spills, everyone laughed. She continued, and so did the scorn. The peace-ship-veteran furthered, one time in the north seas they were cleaning up the oil by fire when he noticed that the fire not only consumed the oil, and the oily bits of birds and baby seals with it (the crowd murmured), but that it also ate away at the ice. He suggested that if we could drop a sizable amount of oil onto the ice, then light that oil on fire, we could easily remove most of the ice. After some deliberation, it was decided that this was not a well thought out plan, and both the man who suggested it and the woman who interjected that Dove soap was how oil spills were cleaned up were removed, he for his outlandish idea and she for her naivety.

At the next meeting, ideas were bandied about, with none carrying any particular heft because they were either entirely detrimental to the environment or because they were simply absurd. One idea, however, did stick, and great conversation and debate ensued. A young man in the back row mentioned that he had a helicopter, and that during prior efforts to thwart Western forest fires, he had piloted this chopper into the teeth of the fire to drop a payload. In the case of the Great Western Fires, or so they became known, he would drop a chemical fire retardant, and the fire would smolder and eventually go out. He said he still had the series of straps and pulleys that held that chemical container, and that this container weighed quite a lot and that his helicopter was strong and agile, and that he was a most skilled pilot.

He continued by asking his fellow citizens what breaks up ice the best. People shouted, Fire! Rain! Then someone shouted Oil that’s been set on fire! And he was removed from the meeting. One child, a boy who couldn’t have been more than 12, spoke up. Rocks, he said. Rocks. The crowd quieted. He explained how he had sat on the shore just the day before, throwing rocks at the ice and watching each one plunk down to the slushy surface and then through it. If we could drop a large enough rock, during a most windy afternoon, the rock would break a huge hole in the middle of that lake, and the wind, with that new foothold to whip waves, would be able to do the rest. One environmentalist shook his head and explained how the fragile ecosystem of a lake such as this couldn’t be tampered with by adding one giant rock to the bottom of the lake. He tried to go on but he was removed immediately.

The pilot said that his chopper could indeed hold a rock of this size and weight, but where would such a rock come from? It would have to be big enough to knock a hole in the ice, and that hole would need to be very, very big. There were rocks around town, sure, but none big enough. The crowd stirred. There was one rock, obviously, that everyone knew of. It was a large rock, round and smooth, worn down from so many teenaged kissers and elderly leaners. It had been there forever, and there was no one in town that had known a life without it. It was a huge rock on the shoreline, and it had been featured in postcards from the turn of the last two centuries, and senior pictures and wedding photos. It was a rock, sure, just a rock, but it was more than that to so many. The meeting was adjurned and everyone was tasked with finding a suitable rock, but not that rock.

The next night, some rocks were in the parking lot. None of them were big enough, none up to the task. So it was decided, we had lived with this iconic rock for long enough, and it was time that the rock gave something more to us. The rock would need to be sacrificed to the depths, because nothing else could break up such thick ice. There were protests, shouts, tears. One elderly women started to tell a story of how her father had come home from the war and how he proposed to her mother… The Constable removed her before she could finish her story, because no one had time for that. The rock would be tied up to the helicopter, carried out to the middle, and dropped. There would be a pot luck at the village hall after. This was Friday, and the rock drop was to take place Monday.

The town was full of nervous energy over the weekend. People called relatives, friends. Old village residents who had long since moved away made plans to travel back for the Monday morning drop. Everyone was excited, some where nervous, others cried. The young pilot was the hero of the town, and every man slapped his back and every woman kissed his cheek. But on Monday, it snowed too much and the chopper couldn’t fly in such limited visibility, so the entire thing was delayed. By Tuesday, everyone had realized what a horrible idea it was in the first place, and the town voted to just wait a little while longer. The ice wouldn’t last forever even though it really did seem as though it would.

About the Author

I'm David Curry. I write this blog to educate and entertain those who subscribe to the theory that Lake Geneva, Wisconsin is indeed the center of the real estate universe. When I started selling real estate 27 years ago I did so of a desire to one day dominate the activity in the Lake Geneva vacation home market. With over $800,000,000 in sales since January of 2010, that goal is within reach. If I can help you with your Lake Geneva real estate needs, please consider me at your service. Thanks for reading.

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